Tag Archives: music

Album Review: Extreme – Pornografitti [1990]

Extreme - Pornografitti

So when we spent the weekend with her family in Moore, Jenny, her family and I went thrift store shopping. We visited a single Goodwill as we came to realize our desired destination was closed on Saturdays. I spent my time scouring the books, albums, and CDs – too much time actually. I saw a couple of video games in the glass cases around the cash register, but surely they had more. I figured they’d be with the other various media I was sifting through, but there was an electronics section that I didn’t examine. Regardless, I walked away with a few items – one of them being the CD Pornografitti by the 1980s/1990s funk metal band Extreme.

At the time, I was being awfully pretentious and was very skeptical of its quality. I’d never heard of the group and I mean, it’s an album called Pornografitti, how great can it be? It wasn’t until our drive home Sunday evening that I was given the opportunity to listen to it. As Jenny began falling asleep in the passenger’s seat, I began rocking out to the very Van Halen riffs. Strong Bad would have no qualms with this music. The first handful of songs were quite lengthy – averaging five minutes a piece – and they were enjoyable. With titles like “When I’m President” and “Get the Funk Out” it was easy to tell these guys were having a good time. I didn’t take them too seriously and it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciated it. Then “More Than Words” came on.

You know, that song. I was baffled. I figured “Okay, every metal album in the 1980s and early 1990s had to have a ballad and they must’ve just covered this song.” Then I looked it up real quick (don’t do this while driving folks) and realized “Holy shit, they did perform this song” and what’s more, they wrote it too! This song topped the Billboard charts; talk about a newfound respect! I continued listening as the night came on and the subsequent tracks returned to the band’s hair metal roots. It was all standard fare until “When I First Kissed You” came on and I questioned the band and the album again.

This song was not a mega-popular single or a single at all. Instead it was a piano-centric crooner song not unlike something Frank Sinatra would perform. It didn’t have that kind of glamour or sensuality, but it helped to portray the band’s broad interests and talents. Again, written by them – not simply a cover. In fact, all of the songs were written by Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt – the lead vocalist and guitarist respectively, although they handled other duties as well. So, as we’re nearing our destination, the songs return once more to the band’s standard fare. Until the final track: “Hole Hearted.”

I thought to myself “Are you kidding me!?” No way did they also do this but sure enough, written and performed by the group. I hear these two singles practically every day at work, when Christmas music isn’t playing that is. I’ve heard them so much just growing up that their lyrics and music are hard to forget. They’re not songs I would’ve actively sought out on iTunes or anything, but I’m glad to have broadened my horizons to the group and associated the two in my head.

That’s one of the great things about thrift store shopping. Sometimes you find surprises and sometimes you surprise yourself. I was prepared to have a laugh and write this album off and by proxy, the band. Instead, I found a group of optimistic hard rockers who had the talents to write diverse songs, be them generic hair metal, piano-centric croons, or heartfelt broad-based singles. If anything, they had fun at the time and someone’s still able to enjoy their music 24 years later courtesy of a thrift store. But I still didn’t find any other video games.

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Random Game #16 – Guitar Hero: World Tour [Xbox 360]

Guitar Hero World Tour

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

By the time Guitar Hero: World Tour released, I had not only moved onto Rock Band, but moved away from acquiring the annual rhythm game. This being 2008, the genre was red hot and hadn’t been flooded quite yet. World Tour was Activision’s attempt to evolve the Guitar Hero series into a full-fledged band game and by all accounts, they were very successful. Not only that, they introduced a few differentiating features such as the music creation tools and a drum kit featuring cymbals. I only picked it up this year for a dollar or so and have yet to play it. I’ve been hooked on this type of game before and at the very least, I’m looking forward to playing through the game with a friend.

Guitar Hero: World Tour was developed by Neversoft and released in North America on October 26, 2008. It was available for a plethora of platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, and Mac. The PS2 and Wii versions were ported by Budcat Creations and Vicarious Visions, respectively, while the PC and Mac versions were ported and published by Aspyr Media. These last two were released on July 26, 2009. Activision published all other versions.

WZRD – WZRD

When I listened to the Drive soundtrack, I figured it was right up Kid Cudi's alley and I was right.

For those who don’t know, WZRD is a collaborative project between Kid Cudi and his producer friend Dot da Genius. They’ve worked together on a few songs in the past, most notably the song “Day ‘n’ Nite.” I believed WZRD was going to be a rock album due to its prerelease hype but it’s not. Sure a guitar is present and Kid Cudi sings instead of rapping, but WZRD is awfully similar to Kid Cudi’s previous albums.

I’ve been a big fan of Kid Cudi’s ever since I first heard “Day ‘n’ Nite.” The lyrics and sounds of the song coalesced into a quantifiable feeling that I have since termed nighttime music. On the albums Man on the Moon: The End of Day and Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Kid Cudi and his menagerie of producers and collaborators put out concept albums full of lyrically introspective songs coupled with beats and sounds perfect for nighttime. WZRD continues this trend, albeit slightly differently.

The sort of sound environments that Kid Cudi has put forth before are ever present on WZRD. Every song has a dark vibe, not angry or aggressive, just mellow like a summer night. The biggest departure from his previous works is the occasional inclusion of a guitar riff. Now, Kid Cudi isn’t soloing until his fingers bleed, instead he’s layering what sound to be fairly simple guitar riffs on top of Dot da Genius’ production. It doesn’t provide for a drastic change over his past work, but it’s refreshing to see him try something new.

This isn’t an album full of rap, instead Kid Cudi sings. What I look for in singers isn’t necessarily what others do. I like Kid Cudi’s caramelized voice and how he hangs on words and draws them out. He doesn’t have any range, and honestly, pretty much every song he’s put out to date falls prey to that fact too. That’s not what I look for from Kid Cudi though. WZRD continues his trend of introspective nighttime music and it’s a genre he owns to himself.

The only song I’d recommend is “Teleport 2 Me Jamie” [featuring Desire]

 

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

Sleigh Bells continue bringing the noise on Reign of Terror.

A band I find really interesting put out a new album last week and I picked it up right away. Sleigh Bells’ Reign of Terror is similar to their previous album, Treats, in that it’s deafening, but different because the songs are more traditionally structured.

Their songs rely heavily on guitar, and I mean that in a metal sense; when I saw them in concert last year they had stacks of amps and the amplification is key to their sound. Another key element to their sound is a heavy use of beats, that when combined with other unfriendly sounds to ears creates gigantic and immense walls of sounds, often times briefly – representing the drums in most cases. That’s Derek Miller, and really that’s only one half of Sleigh Bells. Alexis Krauss is the other half and she brings the vocals. She seems to “sing” more often on this album, and that’s a welcome change. Like I said previously, their songs are more structured this time around with familiar elements to pop songs and that’s thanks to Alexis’ background in pop music. I know little about song structure and am a simpleton however and just like the sounds and sometimes a handful of lyrics that I find fun to sing.

I haven’t spent enough time with the album to parse out the songs too well. My favorite song is “Comeback Kid” because of the underdog mentality of the lyrics, as well as the flow of the song. Another favorite of mine is “Born to Lose” in which Alexis shows brutal apathy for someone who gives up on life easily.

It’s a really interesting combination of the most intense and heavy guitar shreds, production heavy beats, and a pop female vocalist that still entertains me and demands to be played at obnoxious levels, especially at stop lights and in parking lots.

“Comeback Kid” Video
“Born to Lose”